A beginner’s guide to saying “no”

Gretchen HirtBy: Gretchen Hirt Gendron, Senior Communications Strategist

If you’re anything like me, you tend to say “yes” to whatever comes your way. Want to join my nonprofit’s board? Will you help me on a new project? Can you volunteer this Saturday? Yes…Yes… and another Yes. Sound familiar?

Problem is, when you say “yes” to one thing, you are automatically saying “no” to something else. I’ve learned over the years, and I’m still learning daily, the importance of saying “no” and the need for balance in my life. While I’m still a novice on this topic, I have learned a few things lately:

  • The Art of Time Management

There are some things to which you simply cannot say “no,” so it’s important to map out all the essentials (job duties, family obligations, etc.), and then prioritize what needs to happen and when. I like to keep a daily to-do list on my phone and a weekly to-do list on paper at my desk, which keeps me organized. Whatever your method is, find one that works and stick to it. Once you organize all your thoughts and commitments, you can start mapping out what time you have for all the extra things thrown your way. This will allow you to be realistic with your commitments and manage everyone’s expectations with the time you’re willing and able to give.

  • The Need for Work/Life Balance:

If you keep saying “yes” to the things that you think you have to do, rather than the things you want to do, you will feel tired, unsatisfied and probably burnt out. In the midst of everything, make sure you find time to pursue your passions and take a break. The stress from the never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness. So it’s important to unplug from time-to-time. Work-life balance can look very different to every individual; you need to figure out what works best for you. For me, I started a blog that helps me pause in the midst of my busy schedule to really enjoy and reflect on my own life experiences, and plan for future adventures.

  • Saying Adieu to Unnecessary People-Pleasing

I wrote a blog on this recently. Constantly living our lives according to how others perceive us holds us back from experiencing true freedom, and living our life to its fullest potential. If you’re not careful, you can easily allow people’s opinions and needs to control your schedule. You become a slave to what people want, rather than prioritizing what’s best. In a work situation, it may mean questioning the norm and asking difficult questions to your superiors and/or clients. Why do we do always this? What outcomes are we looking to achieve? Is this the best use of our time?  These type of questions will transition you from being an order-taker to a strategic thought-leader.

Remember, saying “no” is a powerful skill that can seem intimidating at first. But for such a tiny word, “no” is extremely liberating when used appropriately.

P.S. See what else I’m writing about on my personal blog – www.theselahblog.com